Thin’s a child to the adult sex

Dancer-yellow

Artist-Yehuda Bacon-mixed media

Following on from my previous post:  “Bell, or Pas Belle”…..

A while back, I read an article about a composer who found some old cassettes of his which had decayed over time, and he wrote a composition using these decayed tapes. 

This caused me not a little concern.  I have boxes and boxes of cassettes with irreplaceable data and recordings.  So I am in the process of having my most precious recordings digitalized, although apparently my cassettes are, on the whole, in quite good nick – having been safely stored.

One of the recordings I’ve just had digitalized is of a song which I called Positive at the time, because it was about trying to think positively.  Here, I’ve decided, instead, to use the beginning of the song as a title.  It starts:

See it thus

Thin’s a child to the adult sex

I want none of that….none of that

This was when Susie Orbach’s book:  Fat is a Feminist Issue, had made a big impression on me.  The idea that the idealised thin (and devoid of body hair) aesthetic imposed on, and adopted by, women in the West, belongs to the concept of women as the child-like sex.

I was also influenced by an album by This Mortal Coil.  In one of the songs on this album, you cannot make out any of the words which the singer is singing – intentionally.  It is part of the style and atmosphere of the song.

This seemed like a great idea!  In this song that I had written, I felt quite exposed by the words after the initial lines.  So I decided to sing it disguising the words in a way that they were almost impossible to make out:  the voice would be more like an instrument providing melody, atmosphere and emotion, without fully-decipherable words.  After the opening lines, the words are not positive at all, but give expression to the way in which, in certain life (and death) situations, your pain can spill over, and other people’s pain can spill over onto you, in a way which can sap your confidence completely, and make it impossible to act on feelings of love, or of being in love.  I had recently passed through such a time, writing songs which gave vent to some intense emotions.  (“It’s slash your wrists time!” would be uttered –  it was later revealed to me – when I got up to sing in my local folk club!)

I met up with a guy who I have to credit with producing this recording:  Sal Paradise.  He got me to work properly on the guitar part until it was perfect before he agreed to record it.  He then doubled the guitar part with a delay inbetween the doublings, and added chorus, and a tabla sample on a loop.  (On his travels, he had recorded musicians, but I omitted to ask who the tabla player was behind this sample.)  He said he would make the vocal part “sweet”, but I think it is pretty much how I sounded back then, in the late 1980s. 

He then made us both a curry.

Unfortunately, he never let me have a decent copy of the recording.

So here it is:  Thin’s a child to the adult sex….

 

 

Bell or Pas Belle!

I came across Michelle Thomas’s blog:  Tinder Date – it just appeared on my computer screen and I clicked on it – about some creepy man she dated who specifically wanted her to know (by lengthy text) that he felt unable to fancy her (to put it delicately) unless she were a “slip of a girl”.  (It does sound like a grown woman is not what he’s after!  Does he need to read Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue!)

It reminded me of a boyfriend at the age of 20 who said to me:  “Honestly!  If you just lost a couple of stone, and you wore a pair of tight jeans, you’d walk across the room and you’d be irresistible!”  If I’d lost a couple of stone, I think I would have been close to skeletal, and I don’t think that was what he actually wanted!

It also reminded me of a poem I recently unearthed while searching for something, which I wrote a long time ago, based on a conversation with some French-speaking guy – not the same one I refer to in Artichoke Heart (earlier blog).  I use the name “Chantelle” mainly because it rhymes so perfectly with “belle”, but apart from that, I used to be known as Chantelle in folk clubs back in the day!  As for him – appropriately enough – I have not the slightest recollection of his name!  I hesitated to publish this on my blog for a few reasons, including:  reluctance to reveal inaccuracies in my French (apart from poetic licence); reluctance to expose the fact that my poetic writing doesn’t stand alone without music!  Yes – I would have written this with the purpose of singing it in folk clubs – but fortunately (perhaps) I didn’t sing it anywhere!  So here it is!

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Il regardait mes yeux, et il me dit

Pourquoi, dis-moi, tu te pas maquilles?

Je répondis, c’est la moi réelle

J’ai pas besoin d’être trop belle

Mais tu n’es pas belle, il dit, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

*

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Je trouve que tu es laide, en effet

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es triste, Chantelle

*

Tu m’attires à cause de ton scent

Ton parfum, peut-être, ou ta lotion

Tes cheveux sont beaux, comme un bébé ta peau

Et tu es spéciale dans ton genre

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es nue, Chantelle

*

La beauté se trouve dans ma famille

Ma mère, ma soeur – elle est très exotique

Mon père était beau, comme moi, ainsi

Je ne te plais pas?  Je dis oui

Car je savais la peine de:  tu n’es pas belle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle

*

Et dans le miroir, l’image tout clair

Laide comme le péché, un visage sévère

La beauté à voir vient de dedans

Mais la beauté dedans peut fuire dans un moment

Non, tu n’es pas belle, je me dis, Chantelle

C’est vrai, t’es pas belle, Chantelle

*

Et dans le marché, et dans la rue

Les vendeurs de légumes, les vendeurs de fruits

La sueur qui tombe de leurs fronts comme ils crient

Pour que t’achètes pas de son voisin, mais lui

Tu n’es pas belle, j’entends, Chantelle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, mais laide, tu sais

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Et tu n’es pas belle de tout, Chantelle

T’es laide et pas belle, Chantelle

***

M. Herman

24.9.90

Someone who read this blog commented:  “They’re both as vain as each other!”  After all, who on earth would say:  “J’ai pas besoin d’être trop belle“???  Well, me, apparently!  Many years ago, during a rare moment of vanity, perhaps.  Or a less rare moment of defiance against the obligation imposed on women to change themselves physically, such as wear make-up, in order to be socially acceptable or beautiful enough.  But trop belle for what?  I think, in fact that was not quite true:  I did feel the need, not d’être , but de sentir trop belletrop belle to be affected by those people who consciously or unconsciously try to undermine you:  through their own feelings of inadequacy, or jealousy.  Such as, to return to the opening of this blog, Mr “Can’t get it up unless you’re a slip of a girl!”  I think all women need to feel “trop belle“!